January 14, 2009

Winner Patrick McGoohan Dies

Emmy® Star of 1960s series The Prisoner, Two Emmys for Columbo

Patrick McGoohan
See McGoohan in the
intro from
1960s CBS series The Prisoner
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Actor Patrick McGoohan, winner of two Primetime Emmy Awards and star of the television series Secret Agent and The Prisoner, died January 13 in Santa Monica, California, following a short illness. He was 80.

A veteran of stage, film and television, McGoohan achieved widespread recognition in the U.S. with the 1965 debut of Secret Agent, a James Bond-esque espionage saga that aired on CBS.

It was an expanded version of his first television series, Danger Man, in which he played the same character, John Drake.

Although it lasted just 17 episodes, The Prisoner premiered on CBS in 1968, inspired a devoted following that included fan clubs and conventions, and was even included in university curricula.

A provocative melding of paranoia and suspense, The Prisoner starred McGoohan as a character known only as “Number Six,” a former British intelligence agent who is abducted in London and taken to a mysterious prison resort called the Village.

Although ostensibly serene, the Village includes “seeing eyes” that monitor activities and signs such as “A Still Tongue Makes a Peaceful Life.”

In addition to portraying the title role, McGoohan co-created and executive-produced the series, and also wrote and directed several episodes.

A new version of the drama will premiere on the cable network AMC later this year.

McGoohan later earned two Primetime Emmys as a guest star on the popular detective series Columbo. The awards came many years apart—the first in 1975, the second in 1990.

McGoohan also starred in the short-lived 1977 medical drama Rafferty.

In addition, McGoohan appeared in numerous feature films. They included Mary, Queen of Scots, Silver Streak, Escape From Alcatraz, Scanners, Ice Station Zebra and Braveheart, in which he played Edward Longshanks, the brutal English king.

Although he grew up largely in Ireland and England, McGoohan was born in Queens, N.Y., on March 19, 1928. Shortly after his birth, his Irish parents returned to their homeland, where they settled on a farm. When McGoohan was seven, the family moved again, this time to Sheffield, England.

He began his career in the 1940s, when he became a stage manager at Sheffield Repertory Theatre, where he began to pursue acting.

In 1951, he married actress Joan Drummond, with whom he had three daughters, Catherine, Anne and Frances.

Before branching into television, McGoohan appeared in many plays, and in 1959 received a London Drama Critics Award for his performance in a London stage production of Henrik Ibsen’s Brand.

In addition to his wife and daughters, McGoohan is survived by five grandchildren and a great-grandson.

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